Written by: jostrep
The Erie Lackawanna’s PHOEBE SNOW departs the station at Rutherford, NJ westbound on the Bergen Line.
Let me begin this article by saying a great big thank you to Minerman 146 (both the elder and younger) for taking the time to create this wonderful route, to Lord Mannu at Digital Train Models for the freeware F7 shown in some of these screenshots, to Richard Cowan at Britkits for the RS3 and PRR Passenger pack, to XDriver, harryadkins, GreatNortherner, RickKfoury, MadMike, JesseJames and others that I have downloaded freeware ( like the G-Trax lightweight passenger set) and repaints of the freeware and payware shown in my screenshots, and to Dovetail Games and all the designers who put such hard work and effort into making the content that Train Simulator 2015 runs with. Without all of you, and the many others throughout the world, we would not have the ability to enjoy our passion for running trains.
Many nice routes and locomotives, complete with rolling stock, now exist for Train Simulator 2015. Some have been around a while and appear a bit dated while others have a fresh look about them since they are new releases. A good number of these exist as payware, content that you purchase to help the company or designer pay their bills. A general rule of thumb exists that states “you get what you pay for”, meaning that if you want a route or engine that is rich with texture and dripping with history you had better expect to part with some very real money. Likewise, if you’re looking for cheap, inexpensive, or free content, don’t expect the same kind of quality you would get from payware. Most of the time, applying this rule will let you know what to expect. Yes, there are many fine examples of content that break that rule, especially from those individuals that I mentioned in the first paragraph. Very nice models of rolling stock and repaints that look as though they came right off the track are out there, but routes that are free usually lack something in the details to push them to the same level.
That was, until I tried the New York Division Bregen Line.
Months ago, when I was just a novice starting out in this simulator that has occupied a significant portion of my spare time (which is why I bought it, so I’m not complaining), I discovered in the Steam Workshop a free route that was just getting started as a work in progress. Not knowing much about what was going on, I subscribed to the route. Grass, track and roadbed, and trees were what I saw a lot of on the first drive down the line that I took back then.
Little did I know how this work in progress was going to turn out to change my ideas of quality. As we all do, I became side-tracked with other routes and content, and hadn’t really checked in much with the Bergen line, as I call it. What a mistake I made!
A few months back, I purchased the PRR Passenger Pack from Britkits. To a person who had the opportunity to grow up along the PRR mainline (I live near the area depicted in the Horseshoe Curve route), Tuscan Red and Brunswick Green (okay, DGLE if you prefer) are attention grabbing colors. And I was looking for a passenger set for the Pennsy, even though I had gotten some sleepers from the Broadway Limited Locomotive Works and acquired baggage and dining cars through various PRR content I bought in the game, like the K4 DLC. Now, Mr. Cowan had a set for sale that would settle for a bit my thirst for PRR themed content. Where was my currency converter?
After buying the pack, and trying it out on the Curve and a few other lines, I decided to run my new train down some picturesque scenery. Enter the middle encounter of the Bergen Line. What I had remembered as trees, track, and grass now sprouted towns, yards, buildings, and other scenery. “Hey,” I thought, “this is cool. Some work had been done to flesh out the line. I can’t wait to check it out!” So here we go, off on a passenger trip down the line…
Whoa, this is neat! I can’t wait to see what this baby looks like further down the line from my departure point at Suffren, and I wasn’t disappointed! Lots of thought went into this route, because the stations and buildings looked like they had a purpose. Even the expansive terrain between seemed to have a story behind it. This has the makings of a good route when done. I’m going to have to check it out and share what I saw via some screenshots. Oh, yeah, this is looking gre…what? A comment on my shot? Already? Better check it out.
Good thing I did, because it was none other than the gentleman who was building this route. He had a comment on my shot, alright. Either my detail settings were on too low, or I was missing some content. Huh? You mean that I don’t have the whole picture, and I think that the route has zing and pop to it? What the heck could I be missing?
Well, it turns out I was missing A LOT!!! In an effort to keep things playable, I supposed, Minerman 146 had limited his content to the Sherman Hill route for most of the objects that made the route useable. For the eye-popping detail, though, he used a route that I did not have: Munich to Augsburg. My heart sank a bit. Here I am, waiting to purchase the eagerly anticipated RF-16 package when it hits the store (Sharknoses belong on the Conemaugh Division as much as the K4, RS11, and Centipede), and I find out that in order to enjoy this route to its fullest, I need another route. Thankfully, the Steam summer sale hit at just about that time. For about $20 (USD), I got not only Munich-Augsburg, but the entire German collection. Good things come to those who wait, indeed! Now armed with what I needed I headed back to the Bergen for a try at some street running on Monroe Street on the Dundee Spur.
OH MY WORD! Would you look at what I was missing? Richly laid out scenes that used buildings that weren’t cookie cutter stand ins for the real world populated areas that were once the domain of milk can placeholders for content I didn’t have before. Roadways went around curved corners and up graded hills and track in the yard looked good, too. Not the well-kept, manicured main right of way either!
No sir, there was more pleasing scenery here than first meets the eye. So I started to check it out:
Half Moon Bridge over the Passaic River…
The National Biscuit Company plant (Nabisco)…
The former Curtis-Wright Engine Factory…
And even a small little road near Ho-Ho-Kus Station (please forgive the Santa Fe ACF chair car stand in for the mix of ACF and Budd built rolling stock that I used on the Phoebe Snow, as EL passenger equipment does not yet exist. I did however keep it to the Santa Fe equipment).
I was having some glitching issues that were causing the route to crash after a bit though, but never fear. Minerman 146 had been aware of these issues, and from his other contacts in the community found and easy to apply fix to the problem. Once fixed, there was only a slight slowdown in an area where three highly detailed scenes met. And this was with the graphics setting on high. So, one more test, to see how this route looked, before I say anything. All the screenshots so far had been from stock that could be seen in the U.S. in this area throughout the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, and it looked good. But what about something more modern? Maybe something from the late 1980’s or early 1990’s? I see modern Union Pacific stock on the route, but how about some…
Big Blue Conrail Quality on the line?
Yep, even Conrail looks at home here.
If you haven’t gone to the Steam Workshop and subscribed to this route by now, shame on you for not doing so. The New York Division Bergen Line packs in quality and quantity of realism that is rarely found outside of payware content and previously limited to the domains of content that covered lines from our cousins across the pond in the United Kingdom. Please do not let an affinity for one railroad, company, or country stop you from trying this route out. It is by far one of the most detailed routes available, and did I mention that it costs nothing but mere moments of time to search, subscribe, and download. No dollars, pounds sterling, or euros involved. This route was designed, according to Minerman 146 himself, for the enjoyment of those engineers/drivers that run the route. So, go and enjoy the line, and tell your friends about it, too!
If you would like to check out this route on the Steam Workshop, please click here.